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The Switch is the best place to play Spelunky and Spelunky 2

So long, Vita. You had a good run

Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

I’ve written thousands of words on Spelunky, my top desert island video game, and I’ve written only slightly less about its brilliant sequel. So I’ll be direct: The Nintendo Switch is the best place to play two of the greatest and most influential video games ever made.

With that in mind, I’m going to quickly address two audiences: Spelunky newcomers and lifetime Spelunky fans. These two groups will have different expectations, depending on their experience with the series. Allow me to quickly alleviate any concerns.

Should I play Spelunky in 2021?

Yes, you should play Spelunky. I mean, come on. Obviously.

If you haven’t tried Spelunky or Spelunky 2, the Nintendo Switch is the ideal entry point. Start with the original Spelunky. It’s comparably slower, and fans have filled the internet with tips, tutorials, and guides.

Normally, the first entry in a video game series acts as a rough draft for refined sequels. That’s not the case with Spelunky. It stands on its own as one of the most important games of the past decade.

In a 2019 retrospective, I wrote that “this refined Spelunky revived an underappreciated genre; fostered a community of critics and sleuths, modders and speedrunners; and has single-handedly kept my PlayStation Vita charged since it got ported onto the forsaken portable.”

For the first time since Spelunky appeared on the Vita, I feel OK mothballing the beloved gizmo in my box of rarely played retro game systems. Though the Switch’s screen can’t compare to the quality of the Vita’s OLED screen (not yet, at least), the game runs notably better on it — especially in the ice caves area, which had a notorious slowdown problem on Sony’s little-portable-that-could.

Does Spelunky 2 run well on Nintendo Switch?

This is the question on the minds of longtime fans. Spelunky 2 added fancier visuals, liquid physics, and multilayered stages, exhausting some lower-end and midrange PCs. Considering Spelunky had struggled at times on the portable machines of its day, I was skeptical the sequel would run smoothly, from beginning to end, on the Switch.

Fellow Spelunky obsessives, worry not. I haven’t beaten Spelunky 2 on Switch just yet, but my colleague Russ Frushtick has reached the true ending, deep within the bowels of its many divergent paths towards the credits. He can confirm every stage runs nicely. Or, in his words, “It runs better on Switch than it did on my PC.”

Spelunky 2 didn’t appear to find as much attention on consoles and PC. That’s perhaps because people prefer the series when it’s portable. Or perhaps because it was released alongside Hades, arguably the great roguelike of this decade. Whatever the case, Spelunky 2 deserves its moment in the sun.

The pleasure of Spelunky 2 is discovering the ways in which it subverts the expectations of its predecessor. “This isn’t a sequel,” I wrote in my Spelunky 2 review. “It’s yet another chance to play Spelunky with fresh eyes; everything is just a little different, another stroke that proves perfection is imperfect. Even the best can get better.”

With both games on Nintendo Switch, millions of folks can discover or rediscover these not-so-hidden treasures.

Spelunky and Spelunky 2 are available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. The game was played on Switch and PC using download codes provided by Mossmouth. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.